Robin Hood's Big Money and Big Decor

June 4, 2002, 12:00 AM EDT

At the Robin Hood Foundation's benefit at the Javits Center, designers Avi Adler and David Stark used fluorescent colors and black lighting to conjure a deep sea dining room. White muslin surrounding the dining area served as projection screens.

Robin Hood Foundation benefitJavits CenterThursday, 05.30.02, 6 PM onward
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Recession? What recession? The Robin Hood Foundation, the heavy-hitter nonprofit with board members like Gwyneth Paltrow, Bob Pittman and Harvey Weinstein, raked in an astounding $14.7 million at its annual fund-raiser last week. And booty that big takes a big benefit, with outsized d?cor and considerable behind-the-scenes preparations.

The gala drew more than 3,000 donors to a space normally used for trade shows in the northeast wing of the Javits Center, where Robin Hood director of marketing Laurie Fabiano led a small army to put the event together. Caterer Glorious Food brought in about 700 staffers (including help from staffing firms Choice Hospitality and Metropolitan Hospitality). Robin Hood volunteers staffed an 84-foot check-in table, and the technical production crew from Event Resources looked big enough to launch a small spacecraft.

Naturally, the d?cor was big, too. Designer Avi Adler and his partner, David Stark, put together an ocean-inspired look that managed to be as striking as the beautifully surreal environment they created for last year's benefit.

The centerpiece of the cocktail area was a stunning installation of hundreds of sparkling strands of crystal beads hanging over an 80-foot by 10-foot black platform with a shallow reflecting pool. (Atomic Design built the set to Adler's specifications.) As the room's dramatic lighting shifted, the crystals reflected the changing colors, and the water's surface looked like polished black marble, until guests tossed in pennies from silver bowls that lined the platform's perimeter.

Behind the cocktail area, a dining room big enough for 300 tables was created using 930 feet of white muslin, which did double duty as walls and projection screens for video presentations shown throughout the dinner. Each table was decorated with a tablecloth in cyan, yellow, pink, purple or green colors inspired by the fluorescent tones of the ocean floor and black lights made the floral centerpieces, tablecloths and orange menu cards glow in the dark, creating the feeling of eating dinner in an aquarium.

A custom-made video of underwater images played as dinner started, and later Sotheby's Jamie Niven led a live auction of celebrity-filled activities (shopping with Sarah Jessica Parker, nightclubbing with Gwyneth, and making sushi with Nobu Matsuhisa were all in one lot). Austin Powers star Mike Myers was the evening's M.C., and David Bowie made a surprise appearance to sing “America the Beautiful.” After dinner guests headed into another room large enough for a full concert stage, where Stevie Nicks performed.

Suzanne Ito & Chad Kaydo

Read about last year's benefit...

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